I want to put some .gsf files on my phone to listen to, because apparently I want (?) to listen to the sound of music filtered through digital styrofoam.
Here’s the most up to date gsf repository I can find: http://gsf.joshw.info/
Here are a couple sites that explain the GBA’s meager sound hardware on a technical level:
The basic idea is that it has all of the GB’s sound stuff (2 squares, white noise, and a wavetable), plus 2 8-bit PCM channels. The sample rates for the PCM channels are individually configurable. The CPU is responsible for actually shoving the data into the PCM channels’ queues at a regular interval (either with the help of interrupts or the DMA unit). To get more than two channels of PCM audio, games have to resort to software mixing (this is what people mean when they say “the GBA has no sound chip”). This eats up valuable CPU time. Every game has to find a balance between audio fidelity and being able to do literally anything else.
One advantage the GBA has over the SNES sound-wise is that it doesn’t need to shove all its audio samples into a tiny 64kB box to be readily used — unfortunately, this is also how/why Nintendo was able to add voices to their Mario and Zelda games.
The vast, vast majority  of GBA games use the music engine provided with the GBA devkit. Internally, I believe it’s just called “m4a” (either “music of [gameboy] advance” or “music for [project] atlantis”?). In some circles it’s also called the Sappy engine, because the rohm acker who reverse engineered it back in the day first discovered it in Pokemon Sapphire. That fellow also made a tool that made it really easy to rip soundtracks that used that engine. Thus, it’s less likely for a game that does not use that engine to have a gsf rip out there.
anyhow, let’s continue with our regularly scheduled post
Asterix & Obelix is a rare game that does not do any software mixing. The PCM is just used for percussion, and the rest of the audio is generated by the legacy GB hardware. IIRC it’s also the last soundtrack the Alberto Gonzales composed using his ZX Spectrum.
F-Zero Climax really tryin’ it’s best to mimic that big F-Zero X energy:
Shin’en’s games have a nice, crisp, Amiga-like sound. (I think they used a custom sound engine.) Here’s something from Iridion 2:
Obligatory Harmony of Dissonance plug:
feed me your recommendations